Smart contractors now more than ever must be vigilant about preserving their rights to mechanics’ liens. Lien rights provide another avenue of protection if and when payment is not made for work performed. Contractors should beware however, when performing work or supplying materials on Pennsylvania projects that cover multiple plots of land.
Recently, a contractor in Philadelphia County performed concrete and masonry work on a strip mall that covered multiple plots of land, with multiple owners. In court, this contractor’s attempt to lien the project was unsuccessful because the contractor filed two liens for the same work against both plots and did not apportion the liens based upon the improvements made to each plot.
The practical message here is that Pennsylvania contractors who work on projects that span multiple land plots and involve more than one owner should be mindful of exactly where they are performing their work, and where the materials they supply are ultimately installed and/or deposited. The statutory expectation under the Pennsylvania lien law in this multiple-plot circumstance is that work performed on each plot is specifically apportioned. This means that the contractor must account for and divide the work and associated costs according to each plot of land where the work occurred.
Pennsylvania contractors would be well-advised in this multiple plot situation to maintain specific daily reports that delineate which work is being performed on which plot of land. Additionally, maintenance of delivery tickets and shipment receipts that specifically note where particular materials are installed is helpful.